Cracked did an article recently, and #5 was my favorite. To me, however, that’s not necessarily the worst. What they failed to mention in it in regards to everyone you know having babies and being thrown into the chaotic social expectation of having to love and appreciate their child whether you want to or not, is that when you see it, you have to tell them how cute it is.
I’m not saying everyone is lying. There are people out there that genuinely find most to all babies absolutely irresistible. I am not one of those people, and I’m speaking of the half of your friends that look paralyzed when you say you need a sitter. Or people who like kids, but not babies. You know who I mean.
There’s really no way to get around being forced to say it whether you mean it or not. You can’t say, “Heyyy, look, you have a baby.” They know that. They were there. You can’t say how smart the baby looks. Everyone knows that’s a lie. Babies are like walking sticks, because they never look like they know anything. No baby I know would beat you at chess, and even with the exception of my teacher’s child who got glasses as a toddler, he didn’t look smart per say. He looked like a toddler wearing giant, bottle cap glasses, because he needed them to see. If you see a child wearing a top hat and a monocle, you’d think, “Man, that baby looks sharp!” or “what a well-dressed lad!” but you wouldn’t think “cute baby.” Unless it was cute. What else can you say about a baby that’s complimentary? You certainly can’t give your friends these cards…they’re just too true. (Although, as someone who’s not anybody’s mommy, I think they’re hilarious. But I’m not sleep deprived and hormonal. If I ever have kids, if anyone with or without kids gives me any of those cards, I will probably beat them to death or bawl loudly in front of them long enough to make them uncomfortable enough to leave. Note: I don’t cry on command, so that’ll be for real.)
So you tell them the kid is cute.
The biggest problem I have with this is when I actually see a cute baby one of my friends/family members had in front of other children/adults. Because this is just something you SAY, I can’t say what I want to say which is, “Now, THIS one is cute. All other babies look like crap, but this one makes me believe cute babies are out there.”
Because, really? I think babies look like aliens and crusty old people. Benjamin Button takes the cake for creepiest baby/old man. I still tell people their kids are cute. Because how can you support them without sort of lying to them? I think they know when I’m sincere anyway, because when I’m not, you can TELL. No, I’m not going to let you in on what the secret signs are. My husband knows, but possibly just because I tell him which babies look like rats after we leave or if he’s sitting next to me while I go through Facebook pictures. Hey, I can think a baby is ugly and still go through baby pictures online. Just because I think they’re weird looking doesn’t mean I want to disprove my own theory. I want to be genuine, dammit.
One time, I told my mom that I remembered when my cousin was born (I have a few, so it’s obviously a younger cousin), and my grandpa kidded(?) that it was “a face only a mother could love” like in Dumbo. My mom said, “No, your grandpa was right. Your cousin is cute now but was not a good looking baby.” My mother, of course, is not swayed by babies either.
However, the day I went to visit one of my best friends in the hospital and saw her baby for the first time, it was cute. Since she knows me, I was honest. “Wow, your son is adorable. I didn’t think he would be, as I don’t think babies are very cute. Especially newborns. But he is. I was worried I’d have to pretend to think he was cute and then sing the ‘Ugly Baby‘ song by Stephen Lynch on the way home. You have no idea what a relief this is.” She laughed, and we ended up singing the song anyway. But it was a huge relief.
Seriously though, don’t ever tell your friends their kids aren’t cute. Unless you’re really sure you never want to be their friend again, and even under that circumstance, don’t do it. You’re asking for homicidal rage.
On the other hand, I am the person who has to refrain going through all of my friends’ dog photos and liking all of them and commenting on it. So maybe I’m the person you hate twice as much or a little bit less. Of course, if I ascertain that your dog is ugly, I will probably still lie to you.